Israel Locks Horns With UN Over Hamas War And Gaza As Secretary-General Calls For Ceasefire

Israel has vowed to "teach the UN a lesson".
Israeli representatives and the UN have clashed over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war
Israeli representatives and the UN have clashed over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war

The Israel-Hamas war led to tensions between the United Nations and Tel Aviv at a meeting yesterday, in a row that is threatening to escalate.

After the Palestinian militant group known as Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, taking at least 200 people hostage, Tel Aviv declared war, and put the Gaza Strip under siege.

More than 1,400 people on Israeli soil have been killed, and more than 6,500 people on Palestinian land have also been killed since the war broke out, according to estimates from the Gaza Health Ministry and the Israeli government, as reported by Associated Press.

While some world leaders still say Israel is within its right to protect its population, the air strikes from Israel have triggered others to call for Tel Aviv to abide by international law.

The conflict has split the international community – and even the United Nations (UN) became involved in the complex, and evolving situation, yesterday, leading to further friction.

What did the UN say?

When speaking to the UN Security Council on Wednesday the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres noted that the Hamas massacre “did not happen in a vacuum”.

He said: “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.

“But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

He added: “Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians – or the launching of rockets against civilian targets.

“All hostages must be treated humanely and released immediately and without conditions.”

The UN has repeatedly called for more humanitarian aid into Gaza and for a ceasefire in the weeks since the violence began.

Guterres’ words come after a report last year from the UN conference on trade and development found two-thirds of Gaza’s population was living in poverty, and it had one of the highest unemployment rates in the world after the “decades-long” blockade.

Guterres also said: “At a crucial moment like this, it is vital to be clear on principles — starting with the fundamental principle of respecting and protecting civilians.”

He followed up his speech with a tweet echoing the same sentiment in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

How did Israel respond?

Eli Cohen, the ministry for foreign affairs of Israel, held up a collage of photos of the Hamas hostages to the Security Council.

He said: “These children and babies have not caused evil, but they are victims of evil.”

Described the details of the Hamas attack on October 7, Cohen said: “Hamas are the new Nazis,” and called for the world to stand behind Israel.

He also warned that “the West is next” and that the ongoing war is “not just Israel’s war. It’s the war of the free world”.

What happened after the meeting?

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, backed Cohen’s remarks after the meeting, saying Guterres’ speech was “shocking”, calling for the secretary-general to resign – and dubbing his words “blood libel”.

Erdan claimed that he “views the massacre committed by Nazi Hamas terrorists in a distorted and immoral manner”.

Israel said it is now going to ban UN representatives from visiting its country in an effort to “teach them a lesson”.

Erdan said on Army Radio: “Due to his remarks we will refuse to issue visas to UN representatives.

“We have already refused a visa for undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths. The time has come to teach them a lesson.”

Griffiths is a former British diplomat and special envoy on Yemen.

He has been particularly clear that more aid is needed to help people in Gaza, and has called for a ceasefire to meet the humanitarian need in the war zone.

The Times of Israel described Erdan’s actions as an “unusually harsh break between the Israeli mission and UN leadership”.

Cohen has also said he will no longer meet with Guterres.


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